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Old 02-13-2008, 12:43 AM   #13
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Default Re: Navy Intercepts Russian Bombers

I think this should just be the offical "Eye on Russia thread",

Russia threatens nuclear attack on Ukraine


By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels
Last Updated: 7:57pm GMT 12/02/2008


Russia has threatened to target the Ukraine with nuclear warheads if the former Soviet republic joins Nato and accepts the deployment of United States anti-missile defences on its territory.

Russia threatens nuclear attack on Ukraine
The Russian and Ukrainian leaders had just held emergency talks in the Kremlin

President Vladimir Putin of Russia warned Ukraine's leader Viktor Yushchenko of "retaliatory actions" should his country join the Western alliance during a joint press conference in Moscow.

"It's frightening not just to talk about this, but even to think about, that in response to such deployment, the possibility of such deployments - and one can't theoretically exclude these deployments - that Russia will have to point its warheads at Ukrainian territory," he said.

The Russian and Ukrainian leaders had just held emergency talks in the Kremlin to avert a energy supply crisis over Kiev gas bill - a similar dispute two years ago led to power cuts across Europe.

Mr Yushchenko responded to the Russian pressure by insisting on Ukraine's right to decide its own foreign policy while stressing that his country's constitution would not allow US military bases on its territory.

"You understand well that everything that Ukraine does in this direction is not in any way directed at any third country, including Russia," he replied.

"We follow the principle that any nation has the right to define its own security. Our constitution does not allow deployment by a third country or bloc on Ukrainian territory."

Mr Putin has condemned Washington's plans to include Poland and the Czech Republic in a missile defence shield as a "new phase in the arms race".

Russia fears the shield will threaten its national security and tip strategic military balance in Europe.

"The goal [of the missile shield] is to neutralise our nuclear capabilities," said Mr Putin.

"This would prompt Russia to take retaliatory action."

Moscow has already declared that Russia will pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), which came into force in 1992 and restricts the deployment of troops and tanks near sensitive European frontiers.

Last week, John Chipman, the head of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, warned that the "next target of Moscow's assertive revisionism "could be the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987.

Both would be moves that would allow Russia to build a new generation of medium-range nuclear missiles capable of striking Western Europe. As relations between Russia and many of its near neighbours deteriorate, Ukraine has submitted a formal membership request to Nato, to be considered a summit of alliance leaders in the Romanian capital of Bucharest this April.

Mr Putin has accepted an invitation to attend the meeting and Russia's parliament last month voted to stop using Soviet-built military radars in Ukraine because of Kiev's Nato ambitions.

The prospect of Nato membership is also deeply controversial in the Ukraine, where opinion polls show that over half of the country opposes it.

Russia has revived the long-range air patrols that were once a standard feature of the Cold War and US defence officials confirmed that a pair of Russian TU-95 Bear bombers overflew a US aircraft carrier in the western Pacific at an altitude of 2,000 feet (660 meters) over the weekend.

Four F-18 fighters jets intercepted the Russian bombers on Saturday morning, but not before they had overflown the USS Nimitz.

It was the second time since July 2004 that a Russian Bear bomber has overflown a US aircraft carrier.

It was not immediately known whether the United States issued any protests with the Russians.
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